Oct 16 2010

Saturday invertebrate update

Large wolf spider encrusted with buttloads of tiny wolf spiders
Wolf spider the size of Guam, covered with tiny wolf spiders the size of an island smaller than Guam.

When a wolf spider the size of Guam strolls by, encrusted with, literally, a buttload of teensy wolf spiders, it is understandable if you widen the eyes a little and say something along the lines of “whoa!” or “what tha?” Nobody will think the less of you.

This heartwarming Neoscona inhabits my bedroom door jamb.

October is among the spideriest of months. Ghostly white crab spiders hide in the sunflowers, green-headed jumping spiders spring out from the wood piles, and giant Neocsonae cover all the windows and doorways in the bunkhouse with cobwebs, eventually enveloping the entire structure, imprisoning the unsuspecting inhabitants for later use as a food source over the winter. If you haven’t seen the dog lately, check the Neoscona web.

The kitchen window Argiope is the Platonic ideal of ubiquitous cardboard Halloween decorations.

I was watching the horror movie channel the other day and there was a scene where a dangling tarantula lowered itself down a thread onto a screaming girl. I laughed and laughed. Tarantulas burrow in the ground, they don’t dangle on screaming girls. That director. What a stupe.

Screaming girls are one of the four cornerstones of modern (and oldern) television. The other three cornerstones are ice girls, prostituted girls, pregnant girls, violated girls, and dead girls.


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  1. Pinko Punko

    I was walking out the front door and this spidey jumped to scurry away and when it landed on the ground there was this kind of poof and then all these little ones scattered. It was indeed a “whoa!”

  2. Comrade PhysioProf

    Twisty, you definitely weren’t an accounting major in college, amirite?

  3. buttercup

    The wolf spider with the buttload photo is amazing. I envy your mad macro skills.

    This was a good year for spiders at the Buttercupia branch of Savage Death Island. I snapped this pair of Argiope lovebirds about two months ago.

    Normally we’re lucky to get one here in the cold wilds of western PA but I saw at least three nice webs with the characteristic Z stitch within ten steps of the back door.

  4. buttercup

    How about that missing photo link, eh?

  5. Bruce the Dude

    Cold-blooded nature crap makes the darkest dude’s heart shine.

    No new ground covered here, but, it’s a great read, and the photos are awesome. On the bullet ant, “if stung by this ant, a person should cauterize the wound with a cigarette.”

  6. tinfoil hattie

    What gorgeous spiders. Thank you for the photos.

    I notice there are so many dang “girl” cornerstones of TV that we have to have a Hexagon Patriarchy Monument.

  7. Belle

    All Hail Twisty! For many things: amazing photo skills, the courage to face a spider the size of Guam, complete with Guamlets, and the most amazing of all – seeing such and saying merely ‘whoa. Lookit that!’

    T’were me, I’d likely take a step or twelve backwards, beg pardon and creep slowly back under my rock.

  8. yttik

    I love the spiders this time of year. I have gotten a bit tired of walking into them and having a thousand baby spiders go down the back of my neck, but I suppose that can’t be helped.

  9. Zuzu

    The dead women must always be blond, and with rich clothes torn raggedy, with style, design wise. Not a real death, just a pretty/sexy one.
    I smacked three flies (refugees from the composting operation) into tiny little comas and then fed them one at a time to the orb weaver today. The spider is outside the kitchen window and has managed to utilize an old day lily stalk as a flying buttress for the entire operation. At night she curls up like an astronaut floating in space around the moon. Thank you for the great arachnid-o-rama today. Heps.

  10. janicen

    This year I have noticed a lot more spiders and webs in the bushes and in the window and door frames than in any previous year. What would cause an increase in spiders? Lack of rain? There has been a serious drought over the summer months.

  11. Paula

    I wish I could be as accommodating with spiders as some of you. Outdoors, I keep out of their way but once they come indoors all bets are off. They really terrify me.

  12. Bev Jo

    Thank you for the gorgeous spiders! I would have thought the orb weaver was Araneus Diadematus. I have some cobweb weavers (black widow cousins) in the house who I feed and water. I love the spiders!!! I’m going to look for tarantulas soon at Mt. Diable. If they’re in the road, it’s an excuse to pick them up to get them to safety, and of course then I have to kiss their little backs.

  13. speedbudget

    yttik, we find walking with a stick being waved randomly and frantically in front of you helps to remove the spider-web problem when on long Heartwarming Savage Nature Walks. It’s actually a necessary part of the gear. We go back for the sticks, but not for food. LOL

    As for cornerstones, don’t forget Kidnapped Girl. It’s like being dead, only you get to try for acting awards by crying and being generally helpless.

  14. Jill

    Bev Jo
    October 17, 2010 at 1:38 am

    […] I would have thought the orb weaver was Araneus Diadematus. […]

    Although I am the world’s foremost expert on orbweavers, my middle-aged eyes cannot tell an Araneus from a Neoscona without comparing them side-by-side at 10x magnification. I choose to have Neosconae because they are rarer. Happily, it makes no difference to the spider.

  15. Bev Jo

    Hi Jill,

    I understand your wanting it to be the rarer species. I kept hoping the mule deer tracks that were spread out in the mud with deep dewclaws showing (instead of their usual tiny tracks) were wild boar. But finally I did see the wild boar and they are so cute!

    Anyway, I forgot to include by blog address for my political writing


    Thank you again for the spiders. I loved all animals and then became terrified after being stung by bees. So, at eight, I thought “I can’t live like this anymore” and tried to be less afraid of spiders. It didn’t take long and I was crazy about them. It’s all I can do to not kiss those huge orb weavers, but it scares them. The tarantulas don’t seem to mind though. The last one I kissed wouldn’t leave my hand.

    Anyway, I always say,”If you love spiders, you will never be lonely.” They are certainly addictive. I try very hard to never disturb their webs since they eventually run out of silk if they have to keep re-building and can die of starvation.

    I love that you love them! Most are female too, and very easy to tell, just by their little faces.

    I love rats too. I am crazy about rats. My last little girl died and I am allowed no more. It’s very hard to be without their amazing love, intelligence, sweet scent, interesting characters, kindness, etc.

  16. tinfoil hattie

    My son told me that if spider webs were built on a human scale, an airplane couldn’t go through one. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s right.

  17. Summerspeaker

    Splendid photographs! I’m fond of spiders. The movie reference makes me think of Frogs and the tarantulas with apparent telekinetic control over Spanish moss. (They flung the Spanish moss at – you guessed it – a screaming girl.)

  18. Blind Horse

    I think that Guam’s twin is in my bathroom right now, with a web between the sink and toilet. When I attempt to relocate her to the great outdoors she skitters back behind the sink at a very great rate of speed. Makes going to the bathroom a little more exciting!

  19. JenniferRuth

    When I see a spider (or even think I see a spider) I scream. I don’t mean to do it. In fact, often I do it even before my conscious mind registers that I have seen a spider. I even made a little yelp when this post appeared on my reader.

    I’ve tried to train myself out of it. I really have. I know that spiders don’t want to hurt me. I know there is nothing to fear. I know it is idiotic to leap and yell at the sight of a tiny house spider. Yet still I am terrified.

    Here is my question. Can arachnaphobia be blamed on the patriarchy?

  20. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    JenniferRuth, yes, absolutely. You’ve been conditioned by the dominant culture to fear and squeal at the sight of things that look too alien, despite a great variance in the size/power dynamic. It’s a genuine patriarch-approved display of femininity.

    On the topic of invertebrates, have any of you blamers been subjected to the Stinkbug Invasion of ’11? It’s been mondo-hyped in the media, although I’ve discovered that simply brushing them away does not provoke a defensive response.

  21. speedbudget

    If we want to put on our Feminist Pedant hats we can discuss how spiders were long associated with women (as weavers) and revered in some cultures, so maybe that has something to do with our new modern fear of them.

    Although JenniferRuth, if you are screaming before you are consciously aware, it’s probably a true phobia, much like agoraphobia and claustrophobia. I don’t think you would feel guilty if you declined to ride in small elevators due to its effect on you, so don’t beat yourself up about the spider thing. I do it to a lesser extent. It’s completely out of my control how much or how loud I scream, but I can manage to act relatively normal otherwise while picking them up to put outside. I’m just screaming bloody murder while I’m doing it.

    I think those stinkbugs only spray if they perceive a threat, and obviously once you crush it, it will stink. So gently brushing one off tends to get the job done, but I think most people are just crushing them to death and then complaining about the smell. It’s like running over a skunk and then complaining that now your car stinks. Don’t do it, and you won’t smell it.

    Sorry about the comment vomit. I’m just so excited to see all my fellow Savage Islanders back around the fire pit!

  22. meerkat

    These spiders disturb me greatly. I think I prefer my little black spiders with white markings that jump on you. Minimal web building, and I have found that the jumping on you is not lethal, although it still poses risk of spider cooties.

  23. yttik

    I was once reading a study in the paper that claimed women were genetically predisposed to fear spiders. No kidding, right in the middle of the article, I had to put down the paper to go save my grown son who was standing on a kitchen chair screaming. Dad had already ran out the front door to save himself. I guess we have defective genes in our house.

  24. ma'am

    I heart spiders! Awesome photos and welcome back. When I was a kid I was terrified of spiders, but I got better. It took awhile. When I bring my jungle of plants in the house I bring a lot of friends, mostly funnel spiders which get really large in fall.

  25. Sarah

    I was wondering where my cats had gotten off to. Now I know they’ve been entombed by spider silk and had all their fluids sucked out. Ghastly, but appropriate to the season.

  26. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    My cat Gypsy used to bring me half-dead, still-wriggling spiders. It was her way of providing for me.

  27. Ames

    Ah, enlightenment, I wondered at the sudden appearance of so many spiders in and around the house. It’s just an October thang. I rounded a corner in the basement just the other day and nearly stepped on a large spider – I jumped and it jumped. Then we both had a good laugh and one of us went to live outdoors. While pulling the last of the apples down, a very pale spider bungee’d off a limb, dangled by its thread, and with two of its legs outstretched, rode the currents to reach another limb. I love the fall.

  28. Ames

    It was I who was pulling the apples down, natch, not the spider. Sorry for the lapse.

  29. Azundris

    There’s this couple I know where the wife goes all castle doctrine on spiders and insects in the house, and the other wife used to be very “live and let live.” Turns out the killer wife is actually very allergic (but wasn’t consciously aware of it), while the other one is not. Now I long for a much larger sample size!

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